Wednesday, February 28, 2007

we've played this game of just imagine long enough

Y'all, y'all, y'all. Stop. The. Presses.

No, I have not, FTLOG (TM Abhi), quit my job. No, I have not packed a box or shipped anything off. No, I have not put together an official plan for my departure. And no, I have not given my landlord official notice.

No, no, no, but yes, I have done the one thing involved with all this stress that is inherently and perfectly sublime. I took a long, deep breath, and clicked a button, and y'all, it's done- I am officially going to Spain.

And the thing about this little spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down is that it locks everything else down. Everything must happen now. I have to quit my job by the date I planned to quit, because after that, hello, trip to Spain. I have to be fully moved by the date I had targeted, because, oops, too bad, trip to Spain. It all has to happen, and the mandatory nature of the situation is sure to help light a fire under my sorry a$$.

I really cannot believe it. I have been talking about Spain for so long with such certainty that it seemed inevitable that I would be writing a post in a few weeks that said, oh yeah, I came up with a reason why that just wasn't going to work out. But it is going to work out and I am afraid it might not, simply because my insides might explode from excitement and it will be hard to put a blob of goo onto a transcontinental flight.

Planning this trip has been interesting. I have been fiercely against the notion of making these plans with anyone else's input. Once, oh, about a decade ago, I was supposed to drive across the country. My friend JL offered to drive with me, which seemed a brilliant idea at first. But as the weeks passed by, she usurped all planning responsibilities for the trip. The next thing I knew, we had an itinerary and certain must-see landmarks flagged, and suddenly I panicked. It was a b*tchy thing to do, but at the last minute, I backed out. The trip no longer felt like mine. I don't know why, but that was very important to me.

It's the same this time, but perhaps for a different reason. Of course, I was still feeling that I wanted it to be my trip. But also, I didn't want to blame anyone for this trip. I didn't want to, years later, say "I was going to go with X, but at the last minute, he/she backed out because the timing didn't work." I didn't want my happiness to be dependent on anyone else.

And I find it rather amusing how this is all playing out. So far, CGBF claims he is going to join me for the first leg of my trip, and that he may even whisk me off to Londontown for a few days (who knew the G's were such big fans of the LDN?). AL tells me he'll be joining me for the last leg of my trip. Even my friend SP has said she might come along. I could not have dreamed up a better vacation- days with friends, days alone, days traveling as a pack, days exploring by myself. Perfection.

And the best part is that, even if all of those plans fall through, I'll still have one, undeniably blissful thing: Spain, b*tches.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

you thought nobody cared, but we did, we could tell

I didn’t first step foot in San Francisco until I was 21 years old. 21 years old and about to fall spectacularly on my face- not for the first time, and certainly, most most certainly not for the last.

On that first visit, everything went just as wrong as it possibly could. It was December, and I was so naïve that I felt sure that California was the land of sunshine and warmth. I packed so lightly that I was exactly the cliché I’ve come to tease now- by the second day, I had to buy a sweater. Even then, I never quite shook the cold that crept into every last fiber of my being. And then there was the matter of my heart getting trounced. But that is a story for another time.

I just wanted to get back to the east coast, to the safety of being in driving distance of home. I just wanted to get out of California. Unfortunately, what I wanted did not really matter. When I got to the airport, the flight representative actually laughed at me. While I had been walking from the Sunset through the Haight all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf, slowly falling in love with San Francisco despite myself, the Northeast Corridor was beset by such a bad blizzard that a state of emergency had been called. At SFO, I was informed that all the flights to the east coast had been cancelled indefinitely.

The next two days were painful. I was past my expiration date, I’d reverted to a pumpkin. My skin was crawling. I spent my time trying to be transparent, trying to be invisible, trying to melt into walls. The rest of the time, I spent calling the airline to check when they could put me on a flight.

And finally, a red-eye, standby, a packed flight, a sleepless plane ride. When I got off the plane in Newark, a shooting blast of frigid air woke me up. I took a deep breath, knowing I had a full day of work ahead of me, having burned away too many vacation days already. When I had left for San Francisco, there was nothing but a little frost on the ground. When I returned from San Francisco, the roads in New Jersey were flanked by high walls of snow. Everything was blindingly white.

I’d left my car in the parking lot at work, the safest place for it. But when I got to work, I saw that the snowplows had ingeniously piled all of the snow around my car, effectively boxing it out of sight. When I got to work, and saw my car in this state, I was low, very low. I felt the world cumulatively bearing down on me, hurtling one more obstacle in my way.

Back then, I was working in the labs. When I got in, Jersey from the next lab over walked in to welcome me back. His name is not really Jersey, but it should be. He took one look at my face and understood. I asked Jersey if he had a shovel I could borrow. I had learned enough to keep one in my car, but I could not actually get to it, the car was that deeply buried in the drifts. I had learned to keep a shovel handy, because, after the first snowfall in New Jersey, I needed to dig my car out of a bank. I didn’t own a shovel then, but two men were clearing the sidewalks. Timidly, I approached them and asked if I could borrow a shovel for a minute; they gruffly said no and returned to clearing the sidewalks. So I had come to think of New Jersey as a cold place, an unfriendly place.

And that day, it felt like I had gone from bad to worse. From the persistent ache that sat in my stomach in San Francisco, I’d come to the cold, the bitterness of New Jersey. And I could feel myself getting colder.

Jersey had simply stated in the morning that he had a shovel in his car. He said we could go out and get it at lunch. I trudged out there with him, trying to swallow all of the frustration that kept welling up. But then we got outside. We got outside, and Jersey glanced for a moment at my car and motioned to his boss. The two rugged Italian men walked up to my car and set to work, clearing out over six feet of snow in short order. They did it matter-of-factly. They did not do it because they were partial to me, or that they knew me particularly well. They did it because they’d seen a young woman staring at her car submerged, and that was enough for them.

The two men were rather amused by my reaction. I was misty-eyed, overcome with gratitude. What they did wasn’t such a big deal, in retrospect, and yet it really was. On any other day, I might have taken such an act of kindness for granted, might have been nonchalant, might have even teased Jersey and his boss for their machismo. But it was not any other day. It was that day.

And it was that day that makes me certain that I will be okay on my next adventure, in a far off place, a place I will not love as much as San Francisco. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need. And sometimes, you don’t even have to try. You just have to be paying attention.

[It is only fair to note that the memory associated with the above post was triggered by Echo’s latest post. And that’s why this blogging thing isn’t always such a bad hang.]

Monday, February 26, 2007

we cannot know ourselves or what we'd really do

This week's song was an easy selection, owing mostly to the one productive thing I do in the mornings: listen to NPR while getting ready. This morning, still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, I could hardly believe my ears when their This I Believe segment aired. The lead singer of The Flaming Lips put in his two cents and I almost want to force feed his words to some of the people in my life.

I wish I could crystallize what I believe into such gems as the series captures. But in the meanwhile, there are people like Wayne Coyne who do much better than I ever could. The simplicity of his happiness is exactly what I find so compelling.

"I believe that normal life is extraordinary."

And that, after all, is what you find from this community of blogging. Yes, much of the time, there is the b*tching about ordinary life, the banalities of existence, and even the sadness of heartbreaks and defeats. But also, sometimes, you find extraordinary posts. Extraordinary posts that are sometimes about normal life, or sometimes written by those you would otherwise think normal if you met them in real life.

Moreso, even those posts about heartbreak, defeat, depression, guilt, envy- all of those are beautiful. There is something in the commonality of it that is breathtakingly beautiful. Probably the only thing that rankles me in writing is when writers seem convinced that they have had a wholly unique experience that only could have happened to them. The truth of the matter is that none of us are that special, in our happiness or our suffering. And the truth of the matter is that the universality is ultimately a beautiful, golden thread.

The Flaming Lips are one of those bands that I feel I should listen to more. Every song of theirs that I have managed to hear has always done me right. At some point, I will have to go back and catch up with them in their entirety. In the meanwhile, the song Yeah Yeah Yeah is a prime example of why they are great. There are great layers in the music and chorus. But despite the seemingly absurd chorus that opens the song, the lyrics are actually quite interesting without taking themselves too seriously.

It was particularly easy to pick this song because it has a second tie-in. If you've never heard the song from start to finish, it will still likely sound familiar to you. If you have seen commercials for Little Miss Sunshine, the song was featured prominently. Amusingly, the song was not on the soundtrack or really incorporated into the film. I guess DeVotchKa was not peppy enough for the marketing folks.

And Little Miss Sunshine brings us to the Oscars, and my Sunday evening. This year, in an unprecedented move, I watched all of the Oscars, even the pre-show nonsense on the red carpet, because I was invited to hang out with the G's. People, let me tell you what I have learned: the gays and I do not agree on fashion. We only reached consensus that Reese Witherspoon looked amazing, and that the entire Will Smith clan grates on our last nerve. Beyond that, they repeatedly schooled me on my lack of fashion savvy. I pointed out that Nicole Kidman was wearing a Charlize Theron Memorial Giftwrap Dress, and they stared at me with open-mouthed horror. They thought Jodie Foster looked great, I thought she was wearing an ill-fitting dress. I kept swooning over Clive Owen; they think Hugh Jackman looked hotter (I'm sorry, but they're just wrong about that one). Oh well. It was definitely more entertaining watching with the G's. I especially love them because, as soon as the Oscars were over, CGBF turned to us and said, "Thank you guys SO much for coming. (beat) Now get the hell out of here."

p.s. Y'all, I bought boxes this weekend. Boxes. I cannot believe it's already time for that.

Friday, February 23, 2007

'cause I know you're living a lie

I have become exceedingly well-versed at the concept of lying by omission. It's become such that I wonder if I'll ever be able to return to just being a straightforward, honest person. Maybe I never was particularly honest, with myself, with others. But I've really tired of it, and I have a fear that I am just going to blurt everything out at some point.

For example, the big cheese knows I am leaving, because of The Goal, and that's all well and good, but she does not know the exact timing, and the exact timing is quite sooner than she might perceive it to be. Now, she never explicitly asked me for a ballpark date when I might want to leave, but I also did not offer up that information. Lie #1.

Or in another example, by and large, my friends do not know about this little venting space. And as a result, they have no clear idea of how I know various assorted bloggers, as I always mumble something vague and unintelligible when asked how I met them. Lie #2.

And lest you think you're off the hook, because I'm oh so honest here, I'm not. Various people have commented on wanting to know what The Goal is all about, and I've kept it close to the vest. I tell people I know IRL when I feel comfortable with them, but I remain conflicted about whether or not to articulate it fully here. So, there it is. Lie #3.

And you know, technically, no big deal, right? Nobody's business but my own, right? But not being truthful has a price. The more carefully guarded I keep these little pieces, the more fragmented I seem, the more unknowable. And in the end, you wind up feeling, while wholly self-sufficient, very much alone. That is okay right now, but at some point, I will go from a simmer to a boil. And maybe then a tidal wave of truth will sweep through my life.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

what would it mean to say I loved you in my fashion?

I don't have anything worthwhile to write, and just to prove how little I have of worth to write, I'll share with you possibly the worst birthday message I have ever written to my dearest friend on the planet, sent yesterday (and folks, I'm cleared to eat solid food as of yesterday, so really, I have no excuse):

Can I just tell you something? Don't take this the wrong way, but just- happy birthday.

See, every year I try to write you something meaningful and ultimately sappy and ridiculous on your birthday, how great you are, and how great it is to know you, and blah blah blah. Really, when I think of what I've written, I just hear blah blah blah, a blur of nothing, the background fluctuations on a 60Hz NMR.

Here's the thing I want to say. There's nothing left to say. And that's what is so great, as far as I am concerned. There's nothing left unsaid. You'd have to be crazy to doubt what you mean to me. And have we grown apart or grown together or grown at all? I don't know. Honestly, does that matter either? I am just always happy that I knew you, that I know you, in whatever capacity it is that we know and don't know each other.

And it's your birthday so you should be happy too. Be happy, stay happy- happy happy happy happy from me to you. And oh, to answer your question, I'm not on drugs right now.

Breaking a personal best in brevity, but with no less affection than always,

Yep. One too many happy's, smacking of laziness and shoddy construction- I am doing a bang up job of telling everyone how I much they mean to me these days.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

this fortress around your heart

Your brain can do quite a bit. A strong sense of will gets you places, because the brain, well, it's electric. It's an interesting thing to consider, that outwardly, we all seem so neutral, but internally, we're building up all kinds of charges, all sorts of negativity and positivity, we are that polarized. The brain, the central nervous system, more often than not, is where things begin.

Still, there is the matter of your heart. Your heart wants what it wants. Your heart is your heart- if your brain should forget, your heart just might remember. Your heart is really the only other place that generates its own signal (okay, technically, your digestive system has its own nervous system, but dude, that's so not a fun analogy to meditate upon). Don't get me wrong. The brain, ultimately, is the boss. It still exerts its will on the heart- the brain can work you up into a lather to make your heart beat faster or douse you in cold water to make your heart beat calm down. But the brain is not the origin. When you talk, when you walk, when you type these words, your brain is calling the shots, your brain began the motion. But the heart begins on its own.

The heart has, for something so small, a complex little system to keep it beating, delivering it the appropriate jolt it needs with steadfast dedication. And though it's romantic, thinking of how the heart is so independent, how there's only so much the brain can do to influence its movement- well, ultimately, there's only so much the brain can do to influence its movement. You can have the strongest willpower in the world, but that does not mean you can will your heart to beat.

My grandfather's heart, the doctors determined yesterday, was losing its spark. Now, my grandfather is someone who has willpower in abundant supply. He yells, he laughs, he is stubborn, he is cheerful, he walks two miles every day, he ignores it when you tell him to turn the volume down on whatever he is watching on ZTV. But his brain can only do so much. He has a good heart, a big heart even, but it gets tired having seen so many years. Tired from the constant demands, the incessant need to beat, the impulse sometimes just diminishes. And so, the doctors decided, my grandfather's heart was fine, but it wanted some help with the business of charging.

I spoke to my grandfather this morning in my frustrating, garbled Gujarati, twelve hours after he'd had a permanent pacemaker put into his heart. The pacemaker: I like to think of it as a miniature set of hands with a miniature set of paddles installed against the heart, yelling "Clear!" with determined consistency, and giving that heart the charge it needs to beat over and over again. And honestly, I love the pacemaker. I love that the pacemaker is watching over my grandfather's heart, governing over it. I trust my grandfather's brain, but the heart needs something else to keep it beating, something more than love and willpower.

But I do get the distinct urge to punch the broseph in the face. He cannot admit that he is freaked out by my grandfather's hospitalization. I guess that is fair, because if he were a real man, he would have to overcome that fear. Instead, he has thrown every excuse at the book at me. "He's probably resting, so I don't want to wake him," "I'm sure he's tired of everyone calling", "I don't know if I'll get home in time to call him." I know it's natural to avoid the sick- it's uncomfortable, and awkward, and most of all, frightening. But at some point (and seriously, the age of 31 is at least that point), you need to put on the big-boy pants and call your grandfather. There's nothing he savors more than hearing from his grandchildren. So far, I am doing a bang up job of bucking the older sister inclination to chide him, take a deep breath, and just be grateful that my grandfather is doing surprisingly well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

don't think about it, boy leave her alone

It could just be the fact that I am still unable to eat solid food, but I have not had the capacity to write anything that resembles substance for the past several days. I don't think it's just nutrient deprivation though. There is only so much brooding and introspection a person can handle, and then, silliness explodes forth, demanding to be indulged.

When I think back on the way I listen to music, I can similarly trace a path of absurd mood swings. That is probably why I will never be considered anyone with true musical cred- I am rather promiscuous when it comes to taste. There has been some appropriate period in my life when I have listened to almost every genre of music. And while this means I will never really have a mastery of any one area of music, it also means I always have somewhere to go.

I love poetry, but I turn to poetry at specific times, when I feel quite a specific way. But music- music I can turn to regardless of my mood. I will always find something that suits me. In fact, I always know things have officially gone out of control in my life when I simply cannot find a song that gets me at a particularly high or low point. Music has made me doubt relationships, it has given me confidence in decisions I have made. I know that ultimately, maybe, music does not mean anything. But everybody has their something, their something they rely on. And a good song will never let you down.

So, there are times when I spend a lot of time contemplating songs, and how significant they have been, and how they conjure up piercing memories. But then there are other times, times like now, when I just want to listen to an entertaining song, a harmless song. And lately, you know, JT has been everywhere in the realm of harmless songs. And while that suits me just fine right now, given the strange cloud I have been floating on for the past few weeks, most of the new JT has been striving for some kind of edge- like look at me, I'm all growed up, y'all! That's fine too. Still, sometimes you just want JT to be a bit of a sissy, and Signs gets that point across pretty well. It has a good beat, you can dance to it, but you also can't help laughing a little at JT- it makes perfect sense when Charlie Wilson pipes in, "you ain't got that Snoop Doggy Dogg style".

That is kind of what does not compute to me right now about JT. At this point, I have to admit to liking his music, because it's just kind of infectious and undeniable. But I do not understand how I am supposed to think of him as edgy or even, yikes, sexy. Maybe that is actually a sign that I am getting old, that I find it impossible to swoon for someone so boyish. The kid is funny. The kid can dance. But still, he can appear with Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland, whoever he wants- and it will just highlight the contrast between them and him. Them: men. Him: boy.

What I particularly like about Signs is that it seems to have fun with that very contrast. While T.I & Timbaland try to prop JT up in the new songs, patting him on the back and treating him like one of their own, Signs is more old school. Even though Snoop is not exactly hard core these days, that makes it all the funnier that he is almost ignoring JT in Signs. Maybe I am interpreting it all wrong, but you know, my interpretation makes the song more amusing. So, as I have been prone to saying of late, I win!

If only I had not killed so many brain cells over the past month, if only the roof of my mouth was not on fire from swelling, perhaps I would be able to write worth a damn. Then again, maybe these are all excuses. I'll get down to it again tomorrow and see if that makes any difference. In the meanwhile, have a listen to Signs and see if it suits your mood or not.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

there's a lot to be said for nowhere

Next Wednesday seems so far away. Picture me sighing. Because next Wednesday is the earliest possible day that I may be able to eat solid food again. My dentist has a website that encourages patients to figure out ways to eat properly despite being unable to eat solid foods, but does so in a rather amusing way:
Hungry people become irritable and less able to deal with discomfort which can follow surgery.

Maybe it's just because I am one of those hungry people right now, but I find that priceless. There's a tone of "I don't really want to hear your b*tching and moaning, so, by gum (get it?!?), get yourself some nourishment." And let me tell you, strangely enough, I can relate to that in a big way right now.

All you women out there who torture yourselves with diets now have my much respekt. Because, let me tell you, as soon as I am given the green light, I am going to go on a binge like you can't believe. A life filled with only mashed potatoes, tomato soup, and pudding (although yum, I do like me some pudding) is no kind of life at all. And, because I am always acting infantile, I am particularly grumpy that I am not allowed to eat cereal in the morning. Life without my Cheerios is cause for much, much grumpiness.

Of course, my coworker T pointed out, rather astutely, that I'm always grumpy, so it's hard to tell if the liquid diet is influencing that at all. But at least I have an excuse now. And I am all about excuses.

The OG called me last night to ask me if I wanted to be his Valentine. That sounds so much cooler coming from a gay Brazilian man. Sadly, I turned him down since I looked like I'd been punched in the kisser, and since the dinner would go to waste, as I could not even drink wine yesterday. I got about midway through a sentence explaining the dental work I'd had done when the OG dismissed me with, "Ay, I have another call. I talk to you later." Ah, the GBF's, they are rather promiscuous that way.

I discovered something last night. I'm losing the ability to peacably watch television. It seems like the last few weeks of non-stop debauchery have created a new norm for me, and now I feel positively restless when I sit in front of the idiot box for more than 30 minutes. I guess that is not such a bad thing, although it's not like I'm doing anything productive with this newfound energy. I mean, besides knitting socks:

And that's all well and good, especially given that by next year, I may really need as many warm socks as I can churn out. But still, it's sort of dorky. And also, there are other, more responsible things I ought to be doing with my time.

And that's the thing. I know I am going to earn the Wrath of Khan from various people for this, but I really do think I am locking myself up in my apartment this long weekend. The broseph and I had a good talk about this the other day. We were discussing times when you know you have something important you need to get done, and he asked me if I found that I still slacked off during those times. It was one of the rare instances that the broseph and I actually approached things similarly. We both have this characteristic during times when we need to be productive- we tell people we're too busy for this, that, whatever, and then we find that, left to ourselves, we get distracted by an old photo album or a dumb television show.

But that's just a process, I realized. Both of us have to hole ourselves away. Even if we ultimately spend 50% of our time wasted on trivial nonsense, it's still necessary. Put in the company of others, we either feel incessantly guilty about the responsibilities we are shirking or return from those social interactions in need of some down time rather than energized to tackle the tasks at hand.

But my brother is frustrated by this. He is frustrated because he feels worse later, wishing he had spent that time with other people. Because he is a relatively social person. I, on the other hand, being a full-on, unabashed loner, have little to no regrets. In fact, I am more regretful that, more likely than not, I will succumb to harassment and guilt-tripping and probably meet up with one or two people this weekend, when really, I just want to chip away at the very long list of things I must get done.

At least this weekend, no one can use the "well, you have to eat" defense of making a dinner date. So, to sum up, yes, I am a jerk.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

so kill me with love

You know what is excellent on Valentine's Day? When you look as though you got into a scuffle with a crack ho and wound up taking a left hook to the chin. And when you are unable to eat solid foods of any kind. And worst of all, you're banned from drinking alcohol for 24 more hours.

Of course, that's what you get when you make the oh-so-smart decision to get dental surgery two days ago. And truth be told, I'm sort of nonchalant about the whole thing, insofar as not being able to go out and make mischief tonight. I've never particularly relished going out on Valentine's Day, whether I've been in a relationship (too much pressure!) or not (too many bitter people who overcompensate how fine they are about being alone). Even if I had remembered that today is this artificial holiday, I'm pretty sure I would have went ahead and had that slice of tissue taken out of the roof of my mouth.

I am, however, thinking of the best Valentine's Day I ever had today, because I talked to my parents last night. They mentioned how the Northeast was about to get dumped with a good old pile of snow. And it's been a long time since I've seen the snow, so I haven't been dwelling on the dreary parts of it, the grey muck and icy slush that follows a snowfall. I've been thinking of the little snowflakes blanketing everything, falling with such vibrant contrast against black hair and black eyelashes.

His hair was blonde though. And we were leaving the science building after some experiment had turned out poorly. We were loitering around where we often used to shuffle our feet, coming up with one more thing to say, one more thing we just had to mention, teeth chattering, hands growing numb. But that night, we walked out of the building, and it was snowing, that thick, lush snow fall.

With the snow coming down, it seemed practical to part. It was the corner of the building, the back of it, an exit that hardly anyone used besides us. From there, he climbed the back stairs towards his place, and I walked straight ahead towards mine. The back, black-iron stairs were carpeted with a thick layer of snow. I worried he might slip and crack his head open. I worried so much about him, even though he was a year older than me. Even now, I still wonder why I was always so worried about him. I think it was because I was always convinced that he did not belong in the world, or at least not in mine, that anyone like that could not exist on the planet for very long.

The truth was that we could not exist in the universe for very long. Not the way we were. Not the way we were that evening. It had just grown dark. I turned towards my path and suddenly felt a swift and sharp thud on my back. I turned to see him mischevously grinning at me, the remnants of snow melting on his hand. Narrowing my eyes at him, feigning annoyance, I gathered up a big, sticky ball of snow and threw it, poorly, at him, pathetically hitting his arm.

After that, it was a mess. It got so that we were hiding behind cars. It got so that I was pushing entire layers of snow off a car just to douse him. We were reverting, as if we had known each other as children. We were moments away from shoving snow down each other's backs. He took a small heap of snow and daintily placed it on my head, like a crown of white against black. He stopped to take a breath and admire his handiwork, pleased with himself.

A man passing by said, "You're a cute couple."

And we replied, laughing hysterically, "We're just friends."

Just friends. As if it could have been called just friends. As if anyone else could ever be just such a friend. A year later to the day, we were not speaking to each other, vexed about one stupid thing or another. But about a decade later, I can't remember why we were fighting. It's all a haze of fights, snowball or otherwise, and a kind of love that can never be touched, a kind of love so pure it can never be resurrected with another human being. It may sound schmaltzy, but since this day is all about schmaltz, I will go ahead and embrace it today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

dancing to that broken record again

Thing the first: Follow-up from Friday, were I a rock star, here are the songs I'd like to perform with other rock stars:
  1. Suedehead with Morrissey, because there are not that many lyrics to remember (dudes, I would most likely faint or paralyze with fear under the imagined circumstances, but let's pretend I made it past that- I still think I'd be pretty tongue-tied), and because Morrissey was, by far, the idol of my adolescence.

  2. Until the End of the World with Bono. As much as I like to make fun of Bono, I'm pretty sure I'd be unable to roll my eyes in this situation.

  3. The Rain King with The Counting Crows. Because it's unlikely I'd ever forget the lines to a song that was inspired by one of my favorite books.

  4. Deep End with The School of Fish. This is the only one on the list that is technically impossible (well, more impossible than the actual premise), since the lead singer of The School of Fish passed away a number of years ago. However, he had a voice that could melt ice. And back when I used to kid myself that I could play guitar, I had bumbled my way through the chords to this song.

  5. Waitress with Tori Amos. Mostly because I think it would be incredibly hilarious to yell I believe in peace, b*tch! with Tori Amos nearby.

Thing the second: Deep End is also my song of the week, because, y'all, I feel like I am drowning right now. The promotion is causing my work week to be filled with meetings, I had dental surgery (minor, but I have one hell of a fat lip today and can't eat solid food), I finished my taxes but I have financial-related hell to do, and yikes, Calgon, take me away.

Thing the third: Brooklyn Brown tagged my sorry a$$, and I am trying to be a good blogosphere citizen, so here we go.

    Three things that scare me:
    1. Almost any scary movie, and I realize how pathetic that is, but whatever, I don’t watch them as a result.

    2. That I may never do anything of use to anyone.

    3. The periodic feeling that the world has gone so awry that nothing can be done to turn the tide.

    Three people who make me laugh:
    1. Chris Rock

    2. Stephen Colbert

    3. Co-worker GBF

    Three things I love:
    1. San Francisco

    2. Good poetry

    3. A good song

    Three things I hate:
    1. Corporate Servitude

    2. Cats

    3. Fake Plastic Neighborhoods (you know who you are)

    Three things I don’t understand:
    1. Herd mentality about major personal decisions

    2. French

    3. People who do not like sugar

    Three things on my desk (I am at work at the moment, which is good, since my apartment has no desk):
    1. A blackberry

    2. A mug with lukewarm water

    3. Piles and piles and piles and piles of paper

    Three things I’m doing right now:
    1. Writing this post.

    2. Listening to a mix I am making for someone to make sure it flows appropriately

    3. Tapping my foot

    Three things I want to do before I die:
    1. Be of use.

    2. Publish something that is not a dry research paper.

    3. Go to Spain.

    Three things I can do:
    1. Be alone.

    2. Fall in love with abstract, non-human things and feel loved back by them.

    3. Knit ugly sweaters.

    Three things you should listen to:
    1. The voices in your head, because sometimes they have a point.

    2. DeVotchKa, if you have not already.

    3. The ocean

    Three things I’d like to learn:
    1. Spanish, to full fluency.

    2. How to make my own clothes, so that I never have to torture myself with trips to apparel shops.

    3. To be more kind, though it seems to be a losing battle.

    Three favorite foods:
    1. Chocolate, especially when it’s coating Pocky, or Peppermint Patties.

    2. Chicken Mole Quesadilla from Papalote

    3. Idli with just a little tinge of Sambal

    Three beverages I drink regularly:
    1. Freshly brewed iced tea

    2. Water- because moisture is the essence of wetness.

    3. Oh, who are we kidding- GG & T’s.

    Three TV shows/books I watched/read as a child:
    1. Knight Rider- shut up, you did too.

    2. Every Oz book I could get my hands on.

    3. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, and the rest of the series, though I can’t remember anything from them except there was a talking lion named Aslan who seemed like a good friend to have.

    Three people I would like to tag:
    1. Yasmine

    2. Ashvin (I'll get you to post more regularly, damn it!)

    3. LS

Well, I don't know about y'all, but I am kind of wiped out.

Friday, February 09, 2007

we all want to be big stars

Thanks for all the well-wishes, folks. Also, who knew Richard Marx could be such a comment-generator?

This new promotion thing? Kind of scary. Luckily, I can breathe a sigh of relief and realize I have much bigger fears to face- the fears that come with losing my salary, and embarking on a wholly new adventure.

Last night, maisnon and I met up with CGBF for dinner. You never know how these things are going to play out, because dynamics are a difficult beast to predict. More often than not, I am against any situations where worlds are colliding. But in this particular instance, all went swimmingly. Quite literally swimmingly, because there was a roof leak in the restaurant and maisnon and I kept thinking we were inadvertently spilling water on ourselves.

Anyway, I happened upon this little news item on Stereogum that made me go weak in the knees. Apparently, The Decembrists were playing a show in the UK, and two amazing guests appeared to sing some classic (they're possibly in my Top 100 songs ever list) tunes. And no, I'm not telling you what they are- if you are a late 80s/early 90s music aficianado, you will simply have to visit the site and check out the You Tube videos for yourself.

See, I'm not a rockstar, but I play one on TV. Okay, I play one in the delusions of grandeur in my head that will one day get me locked away in a padded room. But the story made me all dizzy-headed with glee because I have quite an imagination on me. And whoa, what a notion that would be, to be standing on a stage and singing along with your idols. I suppose that could be applied to everything- I suppose it might be equally grand for a young physicist to work with Stephen Hawking. But it doesn't seem as grand, however unfair that may sound.

So, here's my question to you, dear readers, while I wait for maisnon to return from LA and put together the best music meme ever (seriously, y'all should bug her about it): let's just say you were a rock star, a young upstart of a rock star, but a rock star with a healthy reverence for some prior musical movement. Who would you bring up on stage, and what would you sing together? I'm going to come up with an answer to this myself, and maybe by Monday, it will be pared down from 200 songs to 5.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

time was all we had until the day we said goodbye

Y'all. It is all on now. This morning, I got promoted. When I was informed of (not offered) my new title, I had to make the game-time decision I had been dreading. And I made the choice I could live with, the choice I had to make (very much to SJM's disapproval, no doubt). I took a deep breath, and dove into explaining the situation about The Goal to the big cheese. And you know what? She took it really well, I am still getting promoted, and things could not have worked out better if I had imagined the optimal scenario.

Funny though. As real as it has all been slowly becoming, as much as the reality is materialized, it became more final, more vivid, more concrete the moment the big cheese was told about it. I thought I was going to shock her, but I was the one that walked out feeling a little overwhelmed and shocked.

I was nervous and crazy about it this morning, my stomach was turned in knots. Afterwards, a sudden rush of parasympathetic something or the other made me suddenly, voraciously hungry. And now I just feel tentative. Like, now what? How do I work? What do I write here?

Well, maybe I'll just share why it's rather absurd that I even got promoted. I walked into the staff meeting where the news was to be announced this afternoon, and this is what happened:
    Assistant: We were just talking about how Anna Nicole Smith might be dead.
    me: (eye roll) She just looks dead.
    Big Cheese: (mortified) Don't say that, you're going to feel really badly, because she really is dead.

A few moments later at the meeting, when news of the death of the very important and work-related Anna Nicole Smith had been confirmed due to someone's internet connection and websurfing abilities:
    Coworker: See, this is why I would never want to be famous.
    me: See, this is why I would never want to be addicted to drugs and insane.

I'm blaming maisnon for this behavior. First, because it's fun to pass the buck. Second, because she was quoting Richard Marx lyrics this morning (see title of post for more evidence of her influence).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

at worst I feel bad for a while

Last night, coworker GBF and I decided to impersonate 19-year olds and go see Lily Allen at the Great American Music Hall. We picked up our tickets, looked at the crowd, and decided it would be best if we have a drink elsewhere. It was nice to sit in a bar with a sticky countertop in a dirty neighborhood, with the Neutron Dance playing in the background.

The funny thing about cities is that they're almost all pretense, no matter what. There are those sterile neighborhoods I've ranted against already, where the pretense is unbearable. But even in the other, gritty neighborhoods, I am convinced a solid 50% of us are full of crap. We have respectable jobs, make a good living, but head into seedy bars so that we may then order a Grey Goose & Tonic. Even though I do not always acknowledge it, I am well aware of my own hypocrisy. Nonetheless, I am more comfortable amongst the police sirens and the shredded newspapers than the whitewashed homes with well-manicured gardens.

By the time we headed back to the Music Hall, we were in a good mood, making cracks about imagined scenarios, scenarios involving little punks approaching us to buy them alcohol. And yet, for all our talk, for all the ceremonial stampings to proclaim we were of age, we walked in and ordered two bottles of water.

If anyone gets a chance, you ought to check Lily Allen out in concert. I was struck by how little her voice is manipulated on recordings, because she sounded phenomenal. And then there is the matter of her disarming manner. She didn't take herself very seriously. Plus, she covered Keane. This is always good for laughs, because the little hipsters in the audience were clearly conflicted: should they own up knowing all the lyrics to Everybody's Changing and thus confess to being shockingly mainstream or should they snub their wee indie darling? Yet another rare moment when age serves as an advantage- CGBF and I waved our hands in the air like we just didn't care.

At one point, CGBF turned to me, swooning a bit from the coolness of seeing this show, and marvelled, "I can't believe you couldn't find someone to go with you to this."

To which I replied, "But I did find exactly who I wanted," throwing my arm around him. And the thing is, I meant it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'm not ready for this sort of thing

On most mornings, my drive to work drives me crazy. Actually, it's not so much my drive to work, but the drive out of the city. Getting out of the Mission is often akin to playing a surreal video game, what with no one obeying traffic signals, strange jalopies double parking wherever the urge has struck them, bicyclists hopping from the sidewalk to the road to the sidewalk again, and the occasional crazed vagrant who feels crosswalks are for chumps. And then there are the 4-way stops, which probably deserve their own post. I'll just spare you that.

Oblivious as usual, I drove to work this morning a few minutes later than usual. As a result, kids were making their way to the nearby middle school. Kids and I occupy two completely different spheres of existence, as far as I am concerned. They ignore me, and I ignore them, and in that way, we have a merry peace between us. On rare occasions in the Mission, you have to deal with punks. As I stopped at a crosswalk, a boy and girl crossed in matchy-matchy uniforms. The girl was half-skipping, half-hopping across the crosswalk, turned to look at me, and, for no reason at all, waved at me, smiling broadly all of a sudden. It took me a moment to realize she'd pierced the bubbles that kept us separate. In fact, I was so baffled that I did not have a chance to wave in return, just grinning dumbly back at her instead. She did not seem to mind.

Two blocks later, a crosswalk guard was manning the intersection, as he always does. I imagine it must be hard to be such a guard in such a neighborhood, where most people think of rules as more guidelines, really. A few months ago, I was at this exact intersection when an 18-wheeler decided to throw caution to the wind and round an impossibly tight turn. The result was an Austin Powers-esque 3-point-meets-21-point turn. As the tomfoolery unfolded, the crosswalk guard and I made eye contact. I am sure I looked annoyed. But he threw up his arms with a helpless what are you gonna do? look on his face. And I immediately laughed, not just at the absurdity of the situation, but also at the sudden wave of comraderie I felt with this total stranger because of our mutual recognition of the silliness.

And that's how I managed to develop a bittersweet aftertaste before I had even left my neighborhood this morning. The crosswalk guard had given me a smile as I passed, and I became aware, for that moment, how this has truly become my neighborhood. How I take it personally when people object to my neighborhood. How I break out into hives when I am in other parts of the city. How I am not a ghost here. How fellow dwellers cast a glance of recognition at me- they don't know me, but they've seen me around. And how all of this is now disturbingly fleeting.

It is okay, I know it is okay. And I have known it to be coming for some time now. Yet it feels abrupt, my departure, my impending departure. I am still clinging to things here. I saw a blurred moon last night and I stared at it too long, thinking if I just studied it enough, I could keep it inside my mind's eye, keep the gentle fog that smudged the light so, keep the muted light it cast on the trees and apartment buildings and streets, keep the perfect stillness in a place that others think of as noisy.

I want to hold on to everything, unreasonable as that is. Perhaps that is why my apartment is in such shambles, and as much as I kvetch about it, I never seem to throw enough away. I have so much to throw away, and I know I am not actually so attached to any of it. It's just what it means, to throw it all away, what it signifies, the end that it suggests. And that takes us back to the title of this post.

Monday, February 05, 2007

and in time I see it fading

First thing's first. The song this week dovetails nicely into tales of the city, most notably Friday night. Actually, only Friday night. Other than Friday night, I spent the weekend doing a whole lot of nothing, besides eating and sleeping.

A lot of alcohol was consumed on Friday night, and I am not celebrating that fact. I am not celebrating because I felt like I was drinking to make the evening bearable. That is generally not good form. But really, in a way, I can see what happened to Hemingway and the likes. Spending too much time around elitist, well-to-do folks who are more interested in mortgage rates and investment portfolios than dancing to The Scissor Sisters will drive you to drink.

But it's not just that they were well-to-do. And it's not just that they were interested in things that I have no interest in discussing. It's also that I was on the other side of the city. I was on the side of the city that is pristine and beautiful and safe, where everyone pays big bank to live, that they may escape from the tedious nagging of reality. It's that I was standing in a room, feeling acutely not white. It's that I was filling some kind of quota. And it's that I knew I didn't belong, not with these people, not in this neighborhood, not in this life.

Yet, I work with these people. And if there was ever any doubt that I am making the right choice in throwing my work away and doing something a little irrational and a lot impractical, Friday night erased them away with its free-flowing vodka. They looked upon me like I was an alien. And I started to wonder why I had been invited to this party. Then I realized it is because I have somehow been deemed as the fun. Which is a nice thing for such people, because some day, they will also be talking about the help much in the same vein.

These people would never invite me to a fine dining establishment, or to their weddings, or even to a daytime excursion with their other friends. But they'd insisted, persisted, barraged me with begging to attend their stupid party. And when I went, I felt I had to entertain them. I felt that's what I'd been invited for, and it all made me feel echoes of all the things I'd tried so hard to escape. At one point, having reached a peak of mind-numbing boredom, I seized control of the host's iPod and became the DJ. I only wish that Esthero had been on the iPod- one of these things just doesn't belong here- hey, look at that girl would have been like a war cry to me at that point.


Later in the weekend, I had an awkward conversation with a friend, who has been feeling that we have drifted apart. It was awkward because one thing becomes readily apparent at such moments. There are really very few people to whom I feel truly close. Most of the people who think they are close friends of mine are not, not really. Maybe it's that I hold close friends to a ridiculously high standard, so most people do not even come close to meeting the bar. Maybe it's that I have learned to be detached over the years, because I have had to be able to move to different places, because I have had to be thoroughly content alone.

And that's what makes it difficult. It is not that hard to change something about yourself, if you have truly convinced yourself it's a fault. But the trouble is that I do not really see this characteristic as a problem. All the big ordeals I have had to face in my life, I have had to face alone. And it's not that I do not appreciate the support people have lent me during those times, but when it comes right down to it, there was never one savior, one person helping me to stay afloat. Those were my legs kicking to tread water, while my friends were cheering from the shore. I am grateful for those people, but I am more grateful for my legs, if I'm being brutally honest.

Maybe it would be different if I had friends I had kept from childhood. Or maybe it would be different if some of my extended family did not serve as surrogate close friends. Or maybe it would be different if I had grown up somewhere besides EBF in the great Northeast, a veritable breeding ground of people who put up barbed wire fences around their vulnerable parts. Whatever it is, I have trouble with permanence. I have trouble with the idea of close friends. And even if it sounds conceited, I rather like the idea of being self-sufficient, of being self-contained, of being able to move to a new place and be okay, on my own.

And as a result, I feel badly that friends are so often disappointed in me. But at the same time, I am powerless to do much about it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

and then came the rush of the flood

You know, I think I migrated to the new blogger, but I am not really certain. If ever you needed more evidence of my lack of tech savvy, here you have it.

On Wednesday night, the Original G asked me to go see a movie. And let me tell you, El Laberinto Del Fauno is one stunning movie. The OG and I both noted that neither of us are particularly inclined towards movies about fairytale fantasies or about war and violence. Yet the odd juxtaposition of the two mesmerized us.

Apparently, I have been dating a lot lately. I realized on movie night that I had just been on a date. The OG bought the tickets, I bought the popcorn, we found ourselves clinging together during particularly squeamish scenes, and I even got a little action at the end of the night. Okay, all I got was a kiss on the cheek, but really, people, beggars can't be choosers. And frankly, I think all of the dates I've been going on with G's far supersede all the tension-filled, alcohol-laced XY-drama that has manifested over the last few months.

Other than that, it seems like life insists on excruciatingly banal tasks that simply cannot be put off any longer. Yesterday, I spent the day running many such mind-numbing errands- dentist's, doctor's, return this, buy that, rent check, grocery shop. I am continually in wonder at my inability to manage such routine activities, especially after so many years of having to do such things on my own. And given this complete display of inadequacy, I cannot help but panic a bit, feel a wave of anxiety, at the impending wave that is about to crash upon me.

So much to be done, and that is just to get to the point where the real work begins. I can't help but shake my head, and muse at the shock it will cause among my acquaintances. I cannot blame them- if I were them, I too would ask, what is she thinking, this fool who can barely get herself to work with her shoes tied, taking on such madness?

It's odd the things I worry about. I worry about moving away and not knowing anyone and having to start again in a place that will be nowhere near as dear to me as San Francisco. But I only worry about that a little, barely really. Most of my worries have to do with self-doubt, and falling on my face, and kidding myself. I remember reading some short story by Bharati Mukherjee (it should be noted that I'm generally not a fan) where characters were described as not-quite's. And that is me. I am not quite- not quite that smart, or that driven, or that empathetic, or that generous, or that charming, or that pretty.

But, W sent me a poem the other day, and I've mangled it out of context and applied it to the exact opposite of what he wanted me to. I'm full of mischief like that. But this, after all, when you get right down to it, has always been my hope:
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies-

This would be the point where AL would probably chime in, and say, "In other words- don't be such a pussy." I suppose there is poetry in everything, if you look closely enough.